Dear Shepherdess: In these days of uncertainty and turmoil everywhere in the world it is wonderful to know ''what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee" (Ps. 56:3).
Missionaries seem to have a special claim on that verse as they face difficulties and situations that those of us in the homeland do not have to experience. Our friends in Detroit, the Blinds, had a period of anxiety during the 1975 hostilities in Lebanon. Cirila's letter of God's providential care for their son and his family who were there during this very trying time was an inspiration to me. I would like to share it with you, as well as an article written by Veda Maxson, who with her husband has spent many years as a missionary in Mexico, Chile, and other countries. As you read it, I know you will catch the desire, as I did, to have "that missionary look" no matter where your place of service may be. With love, Kay.
God's Providential Care
by Cirila Blinci
Our son Bob, his wife, Karen, and little daughter, Teresa, lived at the mission compound in Beirut, Lebanon, during part of the destruction of Beirut in 1975.
On October 11, Karen was in labor with their second child, but fighting at the foot of the hill below the division headquarters made it impossible to get through to the American University Hospital only a few miles away. Fortunately, Karen's doctor had given her the name of a doctor in another town in case they could not get to him.
With prayer on their lips, and with the help of Mrs. Mary Darnell, a nurse from the compound, they traveled for more than an hour through unfamiliar mountains to the little town of Jhounie, and found the hospital.
Using Mrs. Darnell, who could speak Arabic, as spokesman, the doctor helped make Karen comfort able, and at 4:35 A.M., October 12, 1975, little Daniel Keith was born at St. Louis Hospital in Jhounie, Lebanon. In the words of our son, "When all doors are closed God opens a window somewhere." Only two weeks later Jhounie was invaded by ships from the sea and was completely cut off from the surrounding villages and towns.
We parents in the homeland owe a great deal of thanks and appreciation to those missionary ladies who know how to care for their neighbors. The ladies of the mission compound took complete charge of our son's little family. They cared for Teresa, then 18 months old, saw that meals were supplied for the family, and took care of the laundry, the home, and the needs of mother and baby. Yes, I worried and wondered just how they could manage during this very trying experience, but our Father in heaven had it all in His plans. The love and care of the missionary ladies were an example that we all must learn to follow.
That Missionary Look
by Veda Maxson
"You are just what a missionary is supposed to look like," popped up a dear little old sister one day in the lobby of a church in the homeland. My mind whirled with many thoughts like the flash of an instant dream. What gives that missionary look?
Was it learning to stay by oneself as a young bride miles from home in a foreign land where the language still sounded like the Tower of Babel? Was it the trust that you learned in the Scripture promise, "The angel of the Lord encampeth . . . "? Oh, how sweet you learned that verse to be when the bullets were flying around your home during an overturn of some political ideal!
Or did that missionary look come from learning that you can always feed extra mouths even though visitors are not foreseen? Remember the time when if you saw five people come into the Sabbath school from up in the mountains or the near town, you knew that you had five extra mouths to feed and to teach that spitting on your floor was not the best of hygiene? They would sling their hammocks and spend the days at the pastor's home in the "city." Remember the time on Fri day morning when your husband went to the door and called back asking whether you wanted man goes? This was not mango season, but someone had a tree somewhere that did not know this. You suggested one hundred mangoes and then changed your mind, asking for two hundred. After all, available food was limited at this time, and the family did like mangoes. Shortly before sundown you were doing the last-minute things when, at a knock on the door, you graciously invited five unexpected guests into the household to receive the Sabbath day blessings. With the solicitous help of the lady and her daughter the floor was swept, the green mangoes were peeled and cooked, and you were ready for Sabbath. Everyone had fresh mangoes and mango sauce. Saturday night's meal was nothing but plain, fresh mangoes. Sunday, as the guests left for their homes refreshed, you remarked to friend hubby that God always provided something to eat, even if it was two hundred mangoes.
Did that missionary look come from the time you paid the rent and your landlord asked who your visitor was the night before? He said that you were seated in the front room with the children around you, as your custom was, and right beside you was a very beautiful lady. "Who was she?" You replied that you had had only one visitor about 6:00 P.M.—the neighbor at the corner. The landlord knew her and said, ''No, she is very dark; the lady I saw beside you as I drove by in my car was sitting very close to you. She was blonde and dressed in white." As you walked back home it dawned on you that your landlord had seen your own guardian angel! Are these the experiences that give a missionary look?
Or is it the tears in your eyes as you listen with a torn heart as your young neighbor girl asks, "Does God ever answer prayers with things that are not good for you?" And she continues how she had prayed to become pregnant with the child of a certain man so that he would marry her. ' 'God answered my prayers for a child, but when I told the father he just said, 'I will give it to you as a gift.' " Was it the mothering you did during this difficult time? Was it guiding her to a better understanding of her Saviour, and finally to full surrender? Was it later, watching as she was baptized?
Or was it when you and your husband walked two hours with Loron and Ruth Ann Wade through the jungles to visit an isolated group, only to find upon your arrival that the message had not been properly understood and that the candidates for baptism were scattered over several kilometers, working in the fields? On your two-hour walk back it was raining full tropical buckets. Walking, wading the streams, sticking in the mud, and being showered with mud, you laughed with Ruth Ann and quipped, "There's nothing like wading with the Wades." You finally got to the railroad tracks just as the train was arriving and you sat in the boxcar cold, wet, and laughing in Christian fellowship. Was it the mud that gave you the missionary look?
Your thoughts flash back to your early mission service. The pastor, your young husband, went to scout out a new district. No matter that it was the size of the State of California. Questioning the home office about the district, your husband learned that there was in this district a family that had not been visited for more than eighteen years. Upon his arrival he inquired of a colporteur where the group was. The colporteur told him, but cautioned him not to try to go in now. "Wait until the dry season, and I will go with you and show you how to get there," he said. But your husband knew the leading of the Lord and insisted he wanted to go. He prayed in his room that if he was to go visit this family the Lord would provide some kind of transportation to get him there. He went to the market place and within twenty minutes had found a truck that was leaving. Climbing up on top of all the produce, your husband sat contemplating God's leading. The truck bulldozed through the granddaddy of all mud puddles and finally arrived in the next town. A quick inquiry at the local store uncovered a youth who was going in the right direction. Yes, the pastor could go along with him to the Sabbathkeepers. After a three-and-a-half-hour walk up the trails, wading through the river crossings sixty times, in the rain and through the night, your husband had "the missionary look" to say the least. When he knocked at the door Sister Bermudez welcomed him into the house, without asking who or what he was, even though he was covered with mud. She scouted through the house and found him a change of clothes, clean socks, and even a pair of shoes to put on his feet. "You must be hungry. Let me fix you a warm drink." When your husband felt clean and warm again she turned to him.
"Pastor, six weeks ago I had a dream that a missionary was coming to see us. I told my family, and they laughed. After eighteen years, they thought everyone had forgotten us. Ten days ago I had the dream again. My family again laughed at me. But I knew you were coming. Pastor, you were the one I saw in my dreams."
What gives that missionary look? It's the surrender of your life to the Master's plan. He guides and He designs that "missionary look."
Prayers from the Parsonage
by Cherry B. Habenicht
Thank You, Lord, for the vacation experiences that help us to ex amine our church from a visitor's perspective.
Surely there must be a church in this area, although we've searched the telephone directory and newspaper listings in vain. Sometimes we find an address given, but discover it to be outdated and worthless. It is often so difficult to find the building or anyone who has heard of Seventh-day Adventists.
I pull Lisa along a crowded corridor, hoping to hear snatches of a cradle-roll song. Classroom doors are open, with identifying signs hid den. Standard departments have been subdivided, with no clues to age limits. By the time we find the right room we have missed the opening exercises.
Occasionally we've had to hunt up the hostess and ask to sign the guestbook. Or we've innocently of fended someone by sitting in "his" pew. We've hummed tunes and peered over shoulders because no one shared a hymnal. We've lingered in the vestibule, watching clusters of people absorbed in their plans, and have left with no more than a few perfunctory words. There have been churches where services were haphazard and disorganized. Obviously, no one was expecting guests.
At the time we have felt impatient, slighted, even angry. "How can people be so insensitive?" we've asked. "Don't they realize what impression they give?"
Please use these negative incidents to teach us a better way. Open our eyes to those things in our city and our church that confuse strangers. May we notice new faces and be alert to others' needs. And may loving one another be so natural that we reach beyond ourselves to all who worship with us.